Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thumper Takes the Hint

It's been a week of rough nights, so when my body refused to cooperate this morning, I called in sick to work. I'm taking a $70 "wellness day." (Lately I've taken to evaluating my need for time off according to the cash payout said time would bring if I was able to quit the City tomorrow.) I slept on and off until noon and poured myself a steaming vat of Starbucks Sidamo and read some overdue Kipling. Maybe I'll get it to the library tomorrow, along with the $4 I owe for the DVDs I took back a day late two weeks ago.

Apparently it's spring break in Evanston, and it's brought about an unfortunate hiatus in my house mates' collective transition to adulthood. None of them is working this week, as far as I can tell, nor is any of them sleeping, apparently. Shaggy -- whose new name is Thumper -- has been remodeling/jumping rope/harvesting hay in the rooms above me until the wee hours of the morning. I've tried to be tolerant, thinking maybe I just need to learn to live with a certain amount of noise, but last night he commenced some intermittent activity that produced a grinding noise directly above my head. It was almost 1 a.m. and I had been asleep for about an hour.

So far this week I've refrained from actually knocking on his door, but I've pounded on the ceiling with the broom handle and whacked the walls with unloved books (Annie Proulx, are you reading this?), and that's been pretty effective. But last night on my way to get the broom I had an epiphany. I grabbed my keys instead.

Puck is all demon. Puck doesn't beep politely like small cars should. When I hit the 'lock' button on the fob, Puck lets out an aggressive, low-pitched blast that makes passersby jump and hurry. I've been parking him right behind the slumbering Cadillac since his arrival here, so he's pretty much directly below Thumper's bedroom window, right on the other side of my bedroom wall. I waited until I heard the noise again and I hit the button twice, with a deliberate and measured pause between. Puck barked two angry tones like an irritated pit bull and brought about instant silence. I must assume that Thumper got the message, because I heard nothing out of him until about 10:00 this morning.

So I've called into being my very own robotic Robin Goodfellow, a little bit jester, a little bit thug, a lot finesse. I don't know what I expected when I ordered the car, but I got more than I bargained for. The only drawback to a sick day is that I can't go for a drive.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Me Too

Humorous Pictures

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

End of Days

I spent 13 hours and 20 minutes at the plant today. We had a bad PLC and our IT guru Gary had to come up from Utah, Gary who mumbles under his breath and calls all the computer stations "guys." "This guy is not talking to that guy." Jeff, who is enduring a trial by fire of sorts, darted around nonstop, agitated, and at one point exclaimed, "We've got sh*t scattered from hell to breakfast!" I defined "caveat" for Travis. And Allen Bradley, your software activation process is a holy living nightmare.

I feel like the world is ending. (The bees, where are all the bees? The price of gas! Local boy killed in Iraq! Ethanol is not even a Band-aid, you fools! Somebody on the Olympic committee hold the hosts accountable! Human rights, China: ur doin it wrong! OMG. I have to stay away from the news for a few days.) I am so bone tired I can't even function. I had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for dinner (thanks M) and I have to decide if I really want to bother with this proposed interview in Napa, because I spent three of the most miserable months of my life in northern California and I'm not looking for a redux. I think they raised the fees on U.S. passports and Delta cheated Kelly and I'm starting to hate again. Hate, hate, hate the world. My fuse is so short this year.

I'm studying. I have terms like "semipermeable membrane" and "mineral flux" and ghastly, complicated chemical equations pecking at my brain like crows at a carcass. Do the temperature and pH of the source water affect the precipitation rate of iron and manganese when sodium dioxide is used as the recarbonation agent? Who cares? I'm going to bed.

But first, just because you're here, I'm going to break all your hearts:

Don't worry. She's fine. In fact, she's milking it for all it's worth. Molly has had more stitches in five years than any rag doll, and she's still one of the best dogs that ever lived.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Everybody in the Pool

It's quite obvious where my mind is these days. I needed to scribble tonight and found a picture I took of some beach balls floating in the hot springs at Granite near Jackson Hole. It's from last July when M and I took a week off and sort of meandered around the countryside swimming in anything wet we could find, except Middle Piney Lake. Too cold.

Oil on Canva-Tex, 8 1/2" x 8 1/2".

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was a super rough day for the kittehs. (Have you met the rest of the kittehs? Warning: highly addictive.) I took them to the vet to have their teeth cleaned and shots updated, which I'm not good about since they're indoor cats. Kitty is brave and adventurous and doesn't so much mind a ride in the car if she's free to roam about the interior, but B.C. winds up beneath the driver's seat trembling in terror and shedding massive clumps of long white fur, so I stuffed them both in the big carrier and put them in the hatch. B.C. howled plaintively all the way so I sang lullabies and wheedled in my best reassuring voice, which made Kitty howl, too. Luckily it's a quick trip. I felt awful.

When we got to the clinic an older gal was dropping off two elderly dachshunds, Fritz and Hans, both waddling, hearty, inquisitive fellows with graying muzzles and lovely, liquid brown eyes. Fritz was black and Hans was tan, and Hans didn't want to be left. Too bad for him the floor was tile.

Kitty didn't need dental work so much as Big Cat, who could make me gag from across the room when he yawned, and his gums were red and raw. I haven't had their teeth done for a few years (they're both about 8 years old) because the first time was so traumatic for them, but now they're both recovering from the anesthesia, which left them drunk and miserable last night and most of today. I could see the relief on their faces when I picked them up, which is sort of gratifying, and B.C. spent the rest of the evening glued to my calves, staggering a little as he made laps around my legs while I washed the dishes and brushed my teeth. Whenever I sat still he was in my lap trying to burrow into me, which is awkward with a giant cat. I tried to hide his antibiotic pill in sliced turkey, but he wasn't too interested so I wound up having to stuff it down his throat anyway and apologize profusely. They forgave me a lot sooner than I expected.

In other news, no matter what I try to make brie palatable, it's still just the most unappealing thing to me. Even trimming off the rind and attempting a very simple fondue grossed me out tonight. I can't get past the moldy taste, and once it's heated, the smell nauseates me even more. I hear people just rave about it, and I want to love it. I like the texture and it seems fabulously creamy, and I am a girl of eastern European descent who loves all things dairy, but no matter how fresh the brie is or how it's packaged, I just can't stomach it. I guess brie is not for everyone and I should quit trying. Incidentally, I love the squirtable cheese that comes in a can. Go figure.

Jeff said "exposably" when he meant "supposedly" today. That is just how Jeff is; he speaks his own language anyway and often makes up or combines words when he's flustered. But his meaning is invariably clear, and somehow I have to love a guy whose powers of communication transcend mere words. The four of us at the plant have a bet on regarding when the big snow pile behind the generator building will be completely melted. Travis picked the 10th of May, Bud the 18th, and Jeff the 10th of June. I took the1st of May, because you never know if we'll get an early spring, and I'm an optimist.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Morning on the Farm

Wheeler Farm, Salt Lake City, Utah

"Look, guys! Swan Lake!"


Puck's new spiffy, sleek, subtle, sporty wraparound shades.

I spent a few hours distracting the denizens of Wheeler Farm from their breakfast Thursday morning after dropping Morgan off at the Salt Lake office of her engineering firm. I loved the doe-eyed Jersey cows and the creek full of mallards with luminous heads and a big cart horse that looked just like the Breyer model I had as a kid, Roy. The farm is a very photogenic place, and I later spent more than I intended to on watercolor supplies with which to paint the critters. (Nothing is more motivating than new art supplies, and I am in need of motivation.)

It was a quick two days, but we managed to sneak in some shopping, fairly fancy dining, and a late night mojito-and-brownie run. And I got away from Evanston, which was just what I needed. Salt Lake is sufficiently lower in elevation than we are to have nearly no snow left on the ground, and the grungy drifts that still litter our streets were a difficult thing to return to. But M had a chili cook-off to crash and a life-size cardboard outhouse to construct, so we had to come back. Photos of that to follow.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Losers

So once again, I get no love from the American Diabetes Association art contest judges. But that's totally okay, because that just means I can post the cards here with the rest of my life, where they belong. (I have a tragically hard time parting with my art, which may preclude me ever becoming a professional artist.) Also it makes me feel good to donate the entry fee. Next year I'll double it.

Alas, Windows XP is rejecting my 'lil ol' HP scanner like a secondhand kidney, so the Olympus had to do the best it could without a flash, and much of the detail is lost unless you open them in a new window. But still, cute. Brent named them the Holiday Stowaways. If I remember -- will someone remind me? -- I'll print some up for sale at Cheri's "Organization Formerly Known as KKI" auction in October. Sold!

Mouse with Camel.

Cardinal with Reindeer.

(Pardon my tangent: "'Walrus... with... wig.' But... if he goes in the water, it'll git off!") (Okay, so there was this alphabet book we had as kids, and Mom had the incredible foresight [before the age of camcorders, if you can believe] to record Morgan reading it when she was, what? Six? And it had these great alliterations, like "Zebra with zither" and... those are the only two I remember. But Morgan voiced her concern about the walrus's hairpiece in an anxious tone that still comes through on the cassette.)

(I also have a cassette recording of myself playing the solo to "Meditation" in the Mar Vista High School gymnasium at a jazz concert when I was a 14-year-old freshman, and even though the solo is really, truly awful [I was to become great later], the recording features Tonetta and Kym and Twinkie whistling and screaming my name, which is fun, but also preserves Dad's voice as he, lightly looped on gin, hummed merrily along with my solo, off-key but persistent. I think he even hoots once. It's one of my prized possessions. And what a tangent this was.)

Sunday, March 02, 2008



Dorothy Isabella Hecox, 91, passed away Feb. 6, 2008, at the Sublette Center in Pinedale. She was born May 19, 1916, in Rock Springs, Wyo., to Alex Stoddard Logan and Myrtle Mary Williams. Dorothy spent her younger years growing up in and around Rock Springs. She married Richard Hecox on June 30, 1934, in Manilla, Utah. He brought her back to Kendall Valley and started building their home on the hill in 1936. She resided there until the last five months.

Richard and Dorothy had three children, Betty Lou, Dick and Donna. They owned a lot of land in the Kendall Valley and ranched until Richard’s health went bad. Besides being a rancher’s wife, she cooked for fire crews and hunting camps, taught school, carried the mail and volunteered for years with the Forest Service as a campground host. Dorothy belonged to Sublette County Extension Homemakers, where she was awarded Homemaker of the Year in 1987, granted the Quealy Award for Outstanding Achievement in extension work. She taught 4-H for several years and helped at the county fair. She was a 50-plus year member of Pinedale Order of Eastern Star. She served as Worthy Matron with Richard and was past president of the Past Matrons Club. She and Richard helped organize the first Jobs Daughter Bethel in Pinedale. Dorothy was past president of the VFW Auxiliary #4801, past president of Southwest District VFW, a member of the Sublette County Historical Society and lifetime member of the Green River Cattlemen’s Association.

She loved the outdoors. She was most happy taking walks and drives, looking for arrowheads and driftwood, crafting of all sorts, painting, knitting, crocheting and bird watching. Dorothy loved spending time with family. She loved having her grandkids and great-grandkids come visit to make crafts, cookies, go picnicking, camping and hiking, and sledding on the hill.

She is survived by her daughter, Betty Lou; six grandchildren LaDonna McLoughlin, Jim (Sandra) McLoughlin, Cindy (Justin) Jones, Disney Brunette, Lori Moore and Festus (Christi) Krause; 10 great-grandchildren, Ryan McGuire, Andrea and Casey Jones, Isabelle McLoughlin, Kendall and Jake Brunette, Sage Trehearne, Brittney Givens, Jamie Jo Moore, Cora Krause; and one great-great-grandchild, Mae McGuire. She was preceded in death by her parents; three brothers; two sisters; husband, Richard; son, Dick; daughter, Donna; and son-in-law, Melvin McLoughlin.

Mom and Dorothy, 2004

Obituaries paint a relatively bland portrait of a life. It's like reading the recipe but never really knowing the intense delight of apple pie. Dorothy was a tiny person with an enormous personality, an unassuming person who lived a remarkable life. And I only knew her in her later years (and my early years) as a kindly, spunky, unusual woman who lived in what still passes for paradise in my dreams.

Dorothy kept my infant mother in an apple crate behind the stove (where she was warm and out of the way) while Mom's parents led pack trips into the mountains. She delivered mail in the idyllic Green River Valley on cross country skis in the winter, and probably by dog sled, too. Mom and I pulled up her gravel driveway one afternoon a few years ago and found her, nearly 90, killing bats in the yard with a tennis racket. Growing up, I measured my height by our annual pilgrimages to her house; I passed her up at age 10 or 11, I think.

Except in the den full of stuffed game (bagged by her late husband, Richard), the ceilings in her rambling log house were low, and the counters and sinks were low. Everything about that house was perfect in my eyes. I loved the picture window on the west wall of the den, adjacent to the huge stone fireplace. (In the nooks and crannies between the jagged rocks Dorothy had glued tiny plastic animals: raccoons, wolves, cats, rabbits, donkeys. I longed to play with them but had to be content to just look.) The window looks out on the pastoral splendor of the Kendall Valley, down on her daughter Donnie's red log home below, on the corrals and sagebrush meadows and mountains beyond. She kept a pair of binoculars on the windowsill, and at any given moment there was always wildlife to peer at, bald eagles or a moose, badgers, chipmunks, meadowlarks, frogs and garter snakes.

There was a metal swing set between the pines in the yard and a foot bridge over a ditch behind the house led to a trail that wound around a beaver pond, along a creek and through a sagebrush meadow. The path followed a river into the forest and ended at the ruins of a trapper's lean-to that absolutely captivated me. Blue jays and chickadees feasted in bird feeders in the yard and horses waited at the fence for small hands to offer sugar cubes or an apple. Her grandson Festus will live in the house now, but I may never be able to bring myself to visit for fear the place will be changed.

I am so hellbent on charging off into a future elsewhere that I haven't been able to stop and consider how many chapters have closed in the past few years. The fabric of my family has changed more than I ever though possible, Wyoming has changed, I've changed. But I have proven to be very good at remembering people and places and things. Toys I haven't played with in 25 years. People I wouldn't recognize on the street because they've grown up or grown old. Places that caught my fancy when I was three feet tall. I don't always get all the details right, but I have Mom and Morgan for that. We remember surprisingly different details about the same events and locations from decades ago.

Napa. Prescott. Olympia. Durango. Nobody's calling yet, but that's OK. The snow is melting, and even though I know it's still way off, spring is coming. That makes this tolerable. I can take my time. There are adventures on the way. There's conspiracy and intrigue. There's also laundry, and grocery shopping and vacuuming, but a girl can't escape those things. Unless, of course, she takes a road trip. And that, friends, is just what the doctor ordered.